The iPhone 7 is all but certain to arrive without a traditional headphone jack. We’ve already seen leaked photos of a new set of some redesigned Apple EarPods with a Lightning connector, but it turns out the company could also have a Bluetooth alternative in the works.
Forbes reports that Cupertino has been developing a set of wireless Bluetooth earbuds for the past few years with some special in-house technology. Specifically, Apple is working on a low-power Bluetooth chip which could improve battery life for the earbuds. That’s a major pain point for Bluetooth headphones in general, which often need to be recharged several times per week.
Apple acquired its new Bluetooth chip technology in 2013 through a purchase of a startup called Passif Semiconductor. Cupertino apparently planned to launch the new earbuds last year but pushed the release back after it failed to meet company standards. “The way it works at Apple is if it doesn’t work 100%, it gets cut,” an inside source told Forbes.
The Apple-designed EarPods would be totally wireless and come with a carrying case that doubles as an external battery pack, according to previous reports. Multiple companies already offer similar products, including Samsung’s Gear IconX (pictured above). But Apple’s special energy efficient Bluetooth chip could set it apart from the competition.
It’s still unclear when these rumored wireless earbuds will be ready to launch. Ideally, Apple would unveil the new Bluetooth technology this September when the iPhone 7 makes its debut, but it sounds like it could be a while before the new earbuds actually arrive.